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105 Seiten, Note: Distinction
LIST OF ACRONYMS
LIST OF SUPPORTING ELEMENTS
2. LANGUAGE EDUCATION POLICY (LEP) AND MULTILINGUAL DIMENSIONS OF THE EU
2.1 The beginnings of the EU LEP
2.2 Towards an inclusive LEP
2.3 Multilingualism in the EU and Austria: Key facts and figures
3. BACKGROUND INFORMATION ON THE GEOGRAPHIC POSITION, POPULATION, LANGUAGES AND EDUCATIONAL SYSTEM OF AUSTRIA
3.1 Geographic position of Austria
3.2 Demographic data
3.3 Languages used informally by the resident population of Austria
3.4 Educational system
4. LEP REGULATIONS AND PRACTICE FOR AUSTRIAN NATIONALS WITH GERMAN AS THEIR FIRST LANGUAGE AND NON-INDIGENOUS MINORITIES
4.1 The present situation of (foreign) language learning in pre-school education (ISCED level 0)
4.2 The present situation of (foreign) language learning in compulsory schooling (ISCED levels 1-2)
4.3 The present situation of foreign language learning in post-compulsory schooling (ISCED level 3-3/4)
5. LEGISLATIVE FRAMEWORK AND LEP REGULATIONS/PRACTICE FOR THE OFFICIALLY RECOGNISED AUTOCHTHONOUS ETHNIC GROUPS OF AUSTRIA
5.1 Legislative framework governing ethnic groups and their languages in Austria
5.2 LEP regulations for the officially recognised autochthonous ethnic groups of Austria
5.3 The present situation of minority language learning in Carinthia
5.4 The present situation of minority language learning in Burgenland
5.4.1 Case Study - Language education of the Burgenland-Croatian ethnic group of Nikitsch
5.5 The present situation of minority language learning in Styria and Vienna
The accomplishment of this work was only possible thanks to the persons who have contributed to its creation in one way or another:
My parents, Anne, Harry, Joanna and Verena.
Thank you for helping me to close this Chapter of my life …
illustration not visible in this excerpt
Figure 1. Language skills in at least two foreign languages per Member State of the EU-25 in November/December 2005
Figure 2. Languages EU-25 citizens ‘know well enough to have a conversation’ (excluding their mother tongue) in 2005
Figure 3. Channels of first and second foreign language acquisition and their proportions in 2005 - EU-25
Figure 4. Austria in the EU-27
Figure 5. Austria and its neighbouring countries on 1 January 2009
Figure 6. Structure of the Austrian educational system in 2008/09 with focus on ISCED levels 0 to 3-3/4
Figure 7. Proportions of Austrian and EU-27 pupils learning foreign languages in primary education (ISCED 1) - school year 2005/06
Figure 8. Proportions of Austrian and EU-27 pupils learning foreign languages in the lower cycle of secondary schools (ISCED 2) - school year 2005/06
Figure 9. Proportions of Austrian and EU-27 pupils learning foreign languages at ISCED levels 1-3 - school year 2005/06
Figure 10. The dominant language of bilingual instruction at ISCED levels 0-2
Figure 11. Foreign/minority languages learned in addition to bilingual instruction at ISCED levels 0-2
Table 1. Selected groups of Austria's population of foreign origin by country of birth on 1 January 2009
Table 2. Selected groups of autochthonous speakers of recognised minority languages according to federal provinces: results of censuses
Table 3. Austrian population according to informal language use and nationality on 15 May 2001
Table 4. MFL/mother tongue teaching (in combination with German) at Austrian kindergartens in the summer of 2006
Table 5. HS/AHS-U - 1st MFL at the end of year 4 of study (year 8 of study if begun in primary school): grade 8 of overall schooling (last year of ISCED 2)
Table 6. AHS-U - 2nd MFL at the end of year 2 of study: grade 8 of overall schooling (last year of ISCED 2)
Table 7. AHS-O - 1st MFL at the end of year 8 of study (year 12 of study if begun in primary school): grade 12 of overall schooling (last year of ISCED 3)
Table 8. AHS-O - 2nd MFL at the end of year 4 of study: grade 12 of overall schooling (last year of ISCED 3)
Table 9. AHS-O - 2nd MFL at the end of year 6 of study: grade 12 of overall schooling (last year of ISCED 3)
Table 10. AHS-O - 3rd MFL as a type of optional subject at the end of year 3 of study: grade 12 of overall schooling (last year of ISCED 3)
Table 11. The total number of pupils receiving MFL-teaching at schools in Austria in years (=grades) 4 (last year of ISCED 1), 8 (last year of ISCED 2), 10 (2nd year of ISCED 3 or ISCED 3/4) and 12 (last year of ISCED 3 or second last year of ISCED 3/4) - numbers and percentages for school year 2004/05
Table 12. Proportions of mother tongue teaching in Burgenland-Croatian and Hungarian (in addition to German) in comparison to MFL teaching in 2004/05 per various school types ranking from ISCED 1 to 3-3/4
Table 13. Burgenland-Croatian, Hungarian and Romani learned at various school types ranking from ISCED 1 to 3-3/4 in five consecutive school years
Table 14. Population development of Nikitsch and its political district in the period of 1934-2009
Appendix A. Common Reference Levels of the CEFRL
Appendix B. Areas where Austrians use the Slovene language in informal communication - according to municipalities of Carinthia in 2001 (settlement areas of Slovenes in Carinthia)
Appendix C. Areas where Austrians use the Burgenland-Croatian or Hungarian language in informal communication - according to municipalities of Burgenland in 2001 (settlement areas of Croatians and Hungarians in Burgenland)
Appendix D. English translation of the questionnaire supporting this dissertation
Appendix E. Ethics-approval-process related forms
ANGLIA RUSKIN UNIVERSITY
FACULTY OF ARTS, LAW AND SOCIAL SCIENCES
MASTER OF INTERCULTURAL COMMUNICATION IN EUROPE
ASSESSMENT OF THE LANGUAGE EDUCATION POLICY IN AUSTRIA AND ITS FITNESS FOR PURPOSE WITHIN THE EUROPEAN UNION
The EU language policy, which is directly linked to the EU language education policy, has been constantly developing since the establishment of the EEC more than fifty years ago (Treaty of Rome, 1957). The Council Resolution of 31 March 1995 on improving and diversifying language learning and teaching within the education systems of the European Union made it clear that in language learning and teaching, as in education in general, the principle of subsidiarity applies. In this respect, this work examines the existing Austrian language education policy regulations and the country’s educational practices, in the light of the EU language education policy, focusing on the groups of Austrian nationals with German as their first language, non-indigenous minorities and Austria’s officially recognised autochthonous ethnic groups. The question of whether Austria adequately prepares pupils for the purposes of a multilingual social and economic interaction within the EU is equally considered. An up-to-date insight into the minority language education practice of a Burgenland-Croatian ethnic sample group is delivered, based on data obtained by self reporting questionnaires.
The analysis shows that the language education practice for all three groups can be largely regarded as a successful implementation of the current EU language education policy and, therefore, as an adequate preparation of pupils for live within the EU. The major deficiency of the most numerous groups of pupils is the fact that the learning of a second foreign language is usually introduced only at the upper secondary stage. With regard to the ethnic groups, the largest deficiency lies in the unavailable legal protection of the Minority School Acts to all groups. As the case study shows, this legal protection provides for a guaranteed, soundly balanced, mother tongue and German instruction at the kindergarten, primary and lower secondary school.
From the signing of the Treaty of Rome (25 March 1957), multilingualism has been part of the European Economic Community (EEC) policy, legislation and practices. The first regulation adopted by the Council of Ministers (15 April 1958) confirmed the equality of the official state languages of the Member States and their status as official and working languages of the European institutions. At that time, the EEC had six Member States - Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg and the Netherlands - and between them they had four official languages: Dutch, French, German and Italian.1
Ever since then, the concept of multilingualism has been developing and growing. Today, it can be regarded as a more embracing construct than ever before which is intrinsically linked to all aspects of language promotion. Language education is, therefore, given special importance in the promotion of multilingualism.
The current inclusive language education policy of the European Union (EU) highlights equality in the promotion of all EU’s languages - official, national, regional, or minority languages. Simultaneously, it emphasises that proficiency in foreign languages is not only beneficial for the individual, but also strongly contributes to the EU’s sustainable economic growth.
The Council Resolution of 31 March 1995 on improving and diversifying language learning and teaching within the education systems of the European Union made it clear that in language learning and teaching, as in education in general, the principle of subsidiarity applies, i.e. the prime responsibility for education remains with the EU-Member States, or their regions. In this respect, the aim of this dissertation is to examine the existing Austrian language education policy regulations, and, more importantly, the country’s educational practices, in the light of the EU language education policy. The question of whether policy and practices meet the requirements of adequate preparation of pupils/students for the purposes of a multilingual social and economic (linguo-economic) 2 interaction within the contemporary EU will be equally considered.
As the EU lays special emphasis on language learning/teaching from a ‘very early age’
(Barcelona European Council of 15-16 March 2002), the overall analysis covers general educational establishments of the pre-primary to the upper secondary level, i.e. ages 3-18/19, and focuses on the following three groups:
1. Austrian nationals with German as their first language 3 .
2. The non-indigenous minorities living in Austria.
3. The officially recognised autochthonous ethnic groups of Austria.
Personal research and the analysis of both original sources and secondary data/information have been the most used methods for conducting this dissertation. Both types of sources have been largely accessed via the Internet, but also through academic libraries (books and reports). Special attention was given to the deployment of a wide range of up-to-date original EU sources whose legislative documentation was crucial for the examination of the current EU language education policy and its development. These sources were equally important for the analysis of the EU-wide multilingual dimensions and language education practices.
The primary source supporting this dissertation is the presented case study related to the officially recognised autochthonous ethnic groups of Austria. The study provides a direct and up-to-date insight into the minority language education practice of a Croatian ethnic sample group of central Burgenland (one of the nine Austrian regions). The relevant data were collected by self reporting questionnaires distributed to ex-pupils/students who attended a bilingual kindergarten, primary and lower secondary school in their Burgenland-Croatian settlement area (an English translation can be found in Appendix D).
In an attempt to harmonise the educational establishments of Austria with an international norm, the achieved levels of education at schools and colleges were adjusted with UNESCO’s International Standard Classification of Education (ISCED) 4.
As the current EU language education policy is of particular importance to this work, its development and current status are given explicit attention in Chapter 2, together with the current multilingual dimensions of the EU, with specific focus on Austria. Chapter 3 provides the necessary background information on Austria’s geographic position, population, languages and its educational system. In this way, these first sections form the basis for the subsequent discussion.
With regard to the first two focus groups, i.e. Austrian nationals with German as their first language and the non-indigenous minorities living in Austria, Chapter 4 examines the existing Austrian language education regulations, explores whether, and to what extent, the country implements the current EU language education policy, and answers the question of whether it prepares pupils/students adequately for life within the EU.
The legislative framework governing the today’s officially recognised autochthonous ethnic groups and their languages in Austria is presented in Chapter 5 and lays the basis for analysing the existing minority language education regulations which are of crucial importance for the discussion on the current educational practice for ethnic groups. This Chapter also considers the question of an adequate preparation for life within the EU and presents the results of the case study and their analysis.
The author’s strong interest in this topic lies in the fact that she considers herself a multilingual EU-citizen who has been experiencing different cultures and their languages from an early age. Having been born and grown up in Slovakia, and educated in Austria whilst living in Slovakia, has raised her awareness of the importance of language learning and multilingualism in general. Based on this personal background, the author is clearly in favour of the promotion of linguistic and cultural diversity. She finds it interesting, and exciting at the same time, to critically look at the different ways of how the individual EU-Member States (in this case Austria) apply the concept of the EU’s inclusive language education policy, and, therefore, to see what importance they attach to language diversity and to its promotion.
The more languages you speak, the more of a person you are. (Slovak 5 proverb)
At long last, Europe is on its way to becoming one big family [ … ].
Laeken Decleration on the Future of the European Union, 2001 6
In the 1970s, the European Community (EC) started to actively promote foreign language teaching in its legislation. The first document to highlight the importance of improving the teaching of foreign languages was the Resolution of the Ministers of Education, meeting within the Council, of 6 June 1974 on cooperation in the field of education. It defined the improved teaching of foreign languages as one of its ‘priority spheres of action’ to which the ‘cooperation’ is mainly related (Council of the EU 1974: 2):
[…] encouragement of the freedom of movement and mobility of teachers, students and research workers, in particular by the removal of administrative and social obstacles to the free movement of such persons and by the improved teaching of foreign languages […].
Therefore, from the very beginning, the LEP was focused on teachers, research workers and students who were encouraged to make use of the freedom of movement and mobility within the EC. It is, therefore, evident that the promotion of improved foreign language teaching was initially exclusively concentrated on the group of students of higher grades, or even higher education.
The first piece of EC legislation to extend the promotion of language learning and teaching to pupils of lower grades was introduced in 1976: Resolution of the Council and of the Ministers of Education, meeting within the Council, of 9 February 1976 comprising an action programme in the field of education. This Resolution recognised that ‘in order to enable the greatest possible number of students to learn the languages of the Community’, the attainment of the objective of ‘offering all pupils the opportunity of learning at least one other Community language’ should be encouraged, among other objectives (Council of the EU 1976: 5). It is important to highlight that the Council of Europe7, which is not to be mistaken with the Council of the EU, previously made a similar recommendation to the governments of its Member States in 1969:
Introduction, to the maximum extent possible in existing national circumstances, of the teaching of at least one widely spoken European language to pupils from the age of about 10, with a view to extending such teaching as soon as possible to all boys and girls from about this age (Council of Europe 1969: 8).
Despite the restriction of concentrating only on the widely spoken languages, attention to all European languages can be explained by the fact that the Council of Europe has always been an intergovernmental organisation with more European Member States than the EU.
In the 1980s, the Member States went a step further, with regard to the extent and the number of taught and learned languages, and agreed in the Conclusions of the Council and the Ministers for Education, meeting within the Council, of 4 June 1984 on the following strategy:
[…] to promote all appropriate measures to enable the maximum number of pupils to acquire, before the end of compulsory schooling, a working knowledge of two languages in addition to the mother tongue (Council of the EU 1997: 1).
This commitment can be regarded as a firm and determining basis of the entire LEP which followed. With respect to the section ‘two languages in addition to the mother tongue’, it is interesting to observe that this document did not narrow the scope of taught and learned languages to Community languages, which was the case in the preceding EC LEP and in the subsequent EU LEP of the 1990s. However, considering that the LEP of the 1980s was in its ‘first phase of construction’, it can be deduced that, also in this case, emphasis must have been given exclusively to Community languages, even though it was not explicitly stated.
Following the Maastricht Treaty (1992) - which established the EU and introduced EU citizenship - the promotion of language learning and individual multilingualism, combined with an emphasis on linguistic diversity, became the corner stone of the educational policy of the EU (HLGM 2007: 5). Two documents from 1995 can be regarded as milestones in the EU’s LEP:
1. The European Commission ’ s White Paper Education, training, research: Teaching and learning: towards a learning society.
2. The Council Resolution of 31 March 1995 on improving and diversifying language learning and teaching within the education systems of the European Union. 8
The second part of the White Paper presented the proficiency in three Community languages as the fourth general objective of the European Commission:
[…] it is becoming necessary for everyone, irrespective of training and education routes chosen, to be able to acquire and keep up their ability to communicate in at least two Community languages in addition to their mother tongue […] (European Commission 1995: 47).
This quote contains four important statements:
1. Proficiency in foreign languages is important for all citizens, and not just for an élite.
2. The learning of other languages is to serve the aim of acquiring communicative ability.
3. Learning one foreign language - for example a lingua franca - is not enough: the goal is the acquisition of multilingual, not bilingual, proficiency.
4. Emphasis is placed on the learning of Community languages, i.e. official languages of the EU, not on the learning of foreign languages in general.
With respect to point 1, it is crucial to note that this concept was recognised by the Council of Europe already in 1969:
[…] knowledge of a modern language should no longer be regarded as a luxury reserved for an élite, but an instrument of information and culture which should be available to all (Council of Europe 1969: 8).
Examination of the documents of the 1990s supporting (foreign) language learning, e.g. the above White Paper, shows that the main emphasis was on benefits to the individual.9
The simultaneous and direct link between a) language learning & individual multilingualism and b) the EU’s economic and general political aims was, however, in the context of the EU, not explicitly acknowledged. This was the case despite the Council of Europe previously acknowledging the crucial and immediate link between languages and the economy in 1969:
[…] a better knowledge of modern European languages will lead to the strengthening of links and the increase in international exchanges on which economic and social progress in Europe increasingly depends (Council of Europe 1969: 8).
Consequently, in the 1990s, the European Commission and the Council of the EU adhered to an exclusive LEP. Exclusive because a) it did not promote the learning and teaching of languages other than the Community languages, i.e. language promotion was exclusively focused on Community languages and b) because it did not yet acknowledge the strong and direct link between languages and the economy, i.e. the promotion of language learning was exclusively focused on individual multilingualism.
The Council Resolution of 31 March 1995 made it clear that in language learning and teaching, as in education in general, the principle of subsidiarity applies. This means that, in the EU, prime responsibility for education remains with the Member States, or their regions, and with individual Higher Education Institutions (HEI) to the extent that they are autonomous in determining their programmes and offerings. According to the Resolution ‘pupils should as a general rule have the opportunity of learning two languages of the Union other than their mother tongue(s)’.10 In this respect, the Council underlines the efficiency of, and the need for, foreign language introduction at the primary school level:
In view of the fact that learning is most effective if begun in childhood at the most flexible and receptive stage of intellectual development, and seeking to encourage schoolchildren to learn foreign languages, it would be desirable to establish or develop early teaching of modern languages in primary schools. […] (Council of the EU 1995: 3).
The same Resolution also emphasises the need to (Council of the EU 1995: 1):
- promote […] qualitative improvement in knowledge of the languages of the European Union within the Union's education systems, with the aim of developing communication skills within the Union and ensuring that all Member States' languages and cultures are disseminated as widely as possible
- take steps to encourage diversification in the languages taught in the Member States, giving pupils during their school career and students in higher education the opportunity to become competent in several languages of the European Union.
As was the case in the White Paper, the heart of this Resolution is the promotion of individual multilingualism. It focuses on the improvement in knowledge of the EU-languages and the consequent development of a communicative ability within the Union. Moreover, it recognises that cultures are a major part of languages, and/or vice versa, and that their mutual dissemination is of great importance. Additionally, it is of special importance to point out that this resolution goes one step further, with respect to the number of taught and acquired languages, and asks for the creation of opportunities enabling pupils and students ‘to become competent in several languages of the EU’. As the level of competence has, however, not been stated, it can be deduced that the EU is open to trading proficiency in three community languages for an undefined level of competencies in more than three languages (‘several languages’).
As the above outline shows, the EC started to work on the introduction of individual multilingualism into its LEP in the 1970s. The European Commission’s objective of individual proficiency in three community languages (1995) and the Council’s demand for competencies in several languages (1995) might have been revolutionary in the late 1990s. However, as the LEP is a dynamic construct, it keeps changing in dependence of a variety of fields of action. Consequently, since the beginning of the new millennium, the EU-institutions have taken another major step forward: from an exclusive LEP towards an inclusive LEP.
The first signs of the promotion of linguistic diversity became visible in the late 1990s. The Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe, in its Recommendation to Member States concerning modern languages 11 (17 March 1998), highlighted that Member States should ‘promote widespread multilingualism’ by ‘encouraging all Europeans to achieve a degree of communicative ability in a number of languages’ and by ‘diversifying the languages on offer’, while emphasising the importance of ‘regional languages, including those less widely used’ (Council of Europe 1998: 33f.). However, it was not until 2003 that the European Commission introduced an Action Plan which actively promoted language learning interconnected with language diversity within the Member States of the EU.
The language policy of the EU, which goes hand in hand with its LEP, reached a higher, and more comprehensive, level with the adoption of the Lisbon Strategy by the EU-Member States at the Lisbon European Council of 23-24 March 2000. The heads of state and government recognised major new challenges resulting from globalisation and the shift to knowledge-based economies. They set a new strategic goal for the Union: to become, by 2010, ‘the most competitive and dynamic knowledge-based economy in the world, capable of sustainable economic growth with more and better jobs and greater social cohesion’12. They recognised the crucial role that education and training would play in achieving this goal, and called for modernisation of education and training systems in line with this new goal. One of the concrete targets set by the European Council was the establishment of a European framework which ‘should define the new basic skills to be provided through lifelong learning’, among them foreign languages13 (European Parliament 2000). The Council Resolution of 27 June 2002 on Lifelong Learning identified the provision of ‘new basic skills’ as a priority, and stressed that lifelong learning must cover learning from pre-school to post-retirement age (European Parliament and the Council of the EU 2006).
The European Council’s call for the establishment of a European framework was answered by the European Parliament and the Council in their Recommendation of 18 December 2006 on key competences for lifelong learning. The requested European framework, now entitled Key Competences for Lifelong Learning - A European Reference Framework, sets out eight key competences (or ‘basic skills’) of equal importance of which the first two are communication in the mother tongue and in foreign languages (European Parliament and the Council of the EU 2006: 13).
The first signs of working towards the achievement of the goals associated with the Lisbon Strategy, which are intrinsically linked to the enlargement of the framework of the EU LEP, were visible in the Decision of the European Parliament and the Council of 17 July 2000 on the European Year of Languages 2001. It acknowledged that ‘in addition to the human, cultural and political advantages, learning languages is also of considerable potential economic benefit’14 . One of the Decision’s objectives of Article 2 also embraced the connection between individual multilingualism and the Union’s economic potential (European Parliament and the Council of the EU 2000: 3):
[…] to bring to the notice of the widest possible public the advantages of competencies in several languages, as a key element in the personal and professional development of individuals […], in intercultural understanding, […] in enhancing the economic and social potential of enterprises and society as a whole.
As outlined, the concept of competencies in several languages of the EU15 has taken an equally important role as the concept of proficiency in three community languages.
The Education Council, in which the Education Ministers of the Member State governments meet, responded to the Lisbon Presidency Conclusions with the Report on the Concrete Future Objectives of Education and Training Systems in 2001. This report stressed the importance of the connection between individual multilingualism and Europe’s economic competitiveness:
The learning of foreign languages as part of education and training is important not only for the cultural enrichment of the individual but also as a contribution to mobility and European competitiveness (Council of the EU 2001: 14).
In the objectives of the European Year of Languages 2001, linguistic diversity was given special emphasis in the Council Resolution of 14 February 2002 on the promotion of linguistic diversity and language learning 16, in which the Council of the EU invites Member States to integrate linguistic diversity into their educational and training systems:
[…] to take the measures […] to offer pupils, as far as possible, the opportunity to learn two, or where appropriate, more languages in addition to their mother tongues […] in order to promote cooperation and mobility across Europe, the supply of languages should be as diversified as possible, including those of neighbouring countries and/or regions (Council of the EU 2002: 2).
This shows clearly that, concurrent with the new millennium, the EU has slowly started to introduce the possibility, by interpretation, of including non-official languages of the EU and also other languages of Europe into the Member States’ linguistic field of promotion (‘those of neighbouring countries and/or regions’) - a point that was previously recommended by the Council of Europe in 1998.
It is, therefore, clear that, contrary to the pre-2000 EU language policy, the EU has gradually started to acknowledge that the learning of, and proficiency/competency in, foreign languages is not only beneficial for individuals but also important for the Union’s economic growth and social cohesion. The concept of exclusively learning the EU’s official languages needed to be replaced by another, linguistically more comprehensive, concept.
The European Commission’s Action Plan 2004-2006 on Promoting Language Learning and Language Diversity (2003) was the driving force towards a crucial change. Its main objectives were (EurActiv 2005):
The extension of language learning benefits to all citizens as a lifelong activity, which is the key objective.
The need to improve the quality of language teaching at all levels.
The need to build an environment in Europe which is favourable to languages.
Within the framework of these goals, the Action Plan emphasised that linguistic diversity means ‘the teaching and learning of the widest possible range of languages’ (European Commission 2003: 9) - a concept that has been recommended by the Council of Europe already in 1998:
[…] the smaller European languages as well as all the larger ones, regional, minority and migrant languages as well as those with ‘national’ status, and the languages of our major trading partners throughout the world (European Commission 2003: 9).
It is, therefore, evident that the LEP of the 90’s needed to be replaced in a rather short period of time by a concept which more appropriately reflected the reality of the EU: inclusive EU LEP (HLGM 2007: 1). Inclusive because it comprises the promotion of all languages spoken in the EU, not only the official ones, and because it includes and interconnects the EU’s economic growth with its citizens’ proficiency/competencies in foreign languages.
Since the EU has acknowledged the languages-economy interrelationship, it has been devoting a great deal of effort to simultaneously implementing measures to enhance language learning and improve its quality. In 1995, the Union officially acknowledged that the sooner its citizens started to acquire a foreign language, the better (Council of the EU 1995). This point was reinforced by the Barcelona European Council of 15-16 March 2002, which called for ‘improving the mastery of basic skills, in particular by teaching at least two foreign languages from a very early age’ (44th Presidency Conclusion of the Barcelona European Council of 2002: 19). Comparing this particular Presidency Conclusion with the interrelated point of the Council Resolution of 31 March 1995, it must be acknowledged that the EU’s determination to monitor genuine progress in this field was, at the beginning of the millennium, remarkably stronger than only seven years previously.
The Council of Europe has been a pioneer in the field of language learning/teaching promotion on a European level since 1969. This includes, inter alia, the acknowledgement and immediately consequent promotion of the following revolutionary concepts:
Early language learning.
Availability of language learning for all. Linguo-economic connection.
Widespread multilingualism, including small regional languages.
In each case, the EU has adopted the approach of the Council of Europe with a delay of years. This suggests that in order to create a favourable environment for an unprecedented, more progressive and more effective European language promotion, the existing cooperation between these two organisations should be strengthened and deepened.
The European Commission’s long-term objective is to increase individual multilingualism, until every citizen has practical skills in at least two languages in addition to his/her mother tongue.
According to the Special Eurobarometer N°243 (2006: 9ff.), which examined the language situation of Europeans at the end of 2005 and can be regarded as the basis of this section’s analysis, 28% of EU-25 citizens stated that, in addition to their native language, they speak two other languages well enough in order to be able to have a conversation (32% of Austrians). Also, 11% of EU-25 citizens stated that they speak three other languages (21% of Austrians). Compared to the results obtained in 200117, 26% of EU-15 citizens indicated two languages and 8% indicated three languages (country-specific data not available). It can, therefore, be deduced that the importance of individual multilingualism is increasing at the EU-level. When taking the only-one- language-perspective into consideration, the situation looks more positive: In 2005, 56% of EU-25 citizens (62% Austrians) were able to hold a conversation in one language other than their mother tongue (47% of EU-15 citizens in 2001; 61% Austrians). This means that Austria is above the EU-average in all addressed cases.
Figure 1 shows that language skills appear to be slightly better in relatively small Member States such as Luxembourg, the Netherlands and Slovenia, whereas citizens of Southern European and the two English-speaking countries, the United Kingdom and Ireland, seem to have a more moderate level of language skills.
Attention should be paid to the fact that in six Member States the majority of the population indicates that they do not know any foreign languages: Ireland (66%), United Kingdom (62%), Italy (59%), Portugal (58%), Hungary (58%), Spain (56%), the accession country of 2007 Romania (53%) and the candidate country Turkey (67%).
Figure 1.18 Language skills in at least two foreign languages per Member State of the EU-25 in November/December 2005
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As far as the range of foreign languages spoken within the EU-25 is concerned, it seems to be limited to five major languages: English, French, German, Spanish and Russian (in this particular order) (Figure 2).
In 2005, 38% of EU-25 citizens indicated English as the foreign language to ‘know well enough to have a conversation’ (Figure 2). This means that English remains the most widely-spoken, constantly growing, foreign language throughout Europe. It is interesting to point out that, with the enlargement of the EU, the balance between French and German is slowly changing, and that Russian has been introduced to the range of most spoken foreign languages in Europe. However, in 2005, the two most widely-known foreign languages of Austria were English (58%) and French (10%).
Figure 2.19 Languages EU-25 citizens ‘know well enough to have a conversation’ (excluding their mother tongue) in 2005
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When addressing what two languages, apart from their mother-tongue, EU-citizens consider, in 2005, to be the most useful to know for their personal development and career, English is perceived to be the most useful language (68%), followed by French (25%), German (22%) and Spanish (16%). These results are not directly comparable with those obtained in 2001 due to a change in the wording of the question. However, the gap between the observed usefulness of French and German is narrowing over time. In 200120, 40% of respondents rated French as useful and 23% assessed skills in German as beneficial. In Austria, in 2005, the most useful languages to know were English (72%), French (16%), Italian (9%) and Spanish (8%). This shows that the language preferences of an Austrian citizen closely reflect the preferences of the average EU-citizen.
Furthermore, it is crucial to point out that the majority of Europeans refer to ‘school’ when asked how they have ‘learned or improved’ their language skills. Figure 3 shows that the total percentage of educational institutions represents a significant share in first and second foreign language acquisition. In 2005, 26% of Austrians indicated ‘primary school’ and 67% ‘secondary school’ as channels of first and second foreign language acquisition. Special importance in the promotion of multilingualism is, therefore, given to the EU’s LEP and its application in the Member States’ education systems.
Figure 3.21 Channels of first and second foreign language acquisition and their proportions in 2005 - EU-25
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Figure 4.22 Austria in the EU-27
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This is a modified version of the original figure. The modifications were made by the author.
Figure 5.23 Austria and its neighbouring countries on 1 January 2009
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This is a modified version of the original figure. The modifications were made by the author.
Austria consists of nine federal provinces, the so-called ‘ Bundesl ä nder ’ [below referred to as L ä nder or Land (singular)]: Burgenland, Steiermark (Styria) , K ä rnten (Carinthia) , Tirol (Tyrol) , Vorarlberg, Salzburg, Oberösterreich (Upper Austria) , Niederösterreich (Lower Austria) and Wien (Vienna).
Austria borders on five different countries in which a language other than German is used as a national or official language: the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Slovenia and Italy. The part of Switzerland which is immediately connected to Austria has German as the official language. This geographical position, as well as the historical dimensions of the Habsburg Empire, have influenced Austrian language concepts and led to numerous language contacts in politics, economic activities, education and many people’s personal lives. These language contacts have a bearing on Austrian language policies. However, it needs to be emphasised that those of Austria’s neighbouring countries where the German language plays a special role make more of the concomitant opportunities presented by this situation than does Austria (BMUKK, BMWF, ÖSZ 2008: 14). The languages of neighbouring countries play a relatively insignificant role in the Austrian educational practice.
Given that Austria’s non-German-speaking neighbouring states were received into the EU at the second last round of accessions in 2004 (except for Italy, one of the founding members of the EU), a more intensified educational promotion of the respective languages is of major importance, as it represents the first step towards the creation of sustainable social and economic cooperation. This approach is not only beneficial for whole societies and economies but also for its individual members.
In this respect, some first successful initiatives were launched in the last few years: The ‘ Niederösterreichische Sprachenoffensive ’ 24 (Lower Austrian Language Offensive), introduced in September 2003, gives special support to the learning of Lower Austria’s neighbouring languages Czech, Slovakian and Hungarian. Another successful initiative is the establishment of the so-called Julius-Kugy-form 25, a form of pupils at the Slovenian academic secondary school in Klagenfurt, the capital of Carinthia, where, apart from German, also Slovene and Italian - Carinthia’s neighbouring languages - are used in the classroom. This class is attended by pupils from Slovenia and from the Italian region Friuli Venezia Giulia (BMUKK, BMWF, ÖSZ 2008: 14).26
The most recent report on Austria’s population ( ‘ Bevölkerungsstand 1. 1. 2009 ’ ) 27 showed that Austria had 8,355,260 inhabitants on 1 January 2009 of which 1,400,708 persons (16.8%) were of foreign origin and 870,704 persons (10.4%) non-Austrians. The larger part of foreigners living in Austria were born abroad (747,094 persons or 85.8%), while more than one seventh of foreigners living in Austria (123,610 persons or 14.2%) were born in Austria. These people are sometimes called the second generation of work migrants, from countries with traditional migration. More than one third (33.6%) of all foreigners living in Austria are citizens from one of Yugoslavia’s successor states (excluding Slovenia). If one includes Turkish citizens (12.7%), foreigners from these countries amount to nearly one half of all foreigners living in Austria (46.3%).
About 36.4% of people with non-Austrian passports are EU-citizens. In this group, Germany has the largest contingent of 15%. Central and East European countries are home to about 15.6% of foreigners living in Austria. Here, Poland is heading the list with 4.2%, immediately followed by Romania, one of the accession countries of 2007, with 3.7%. Table 1 shows a more detailed list of groups of population of foreign origin living in Austria in 2009:
Table 1.28 Selected groups of Austria’s population of foreign origin by country of birth on 1 January 2009
illustration not visible in this excerpt
It is important to stress that when taking the group of ‘Austrian citizens born abroad’ into consideration (Table 1), its members have only gradually, over the course of the years spent in Austria, obtained Austrian citizenship. This means that these, now Austrian, citizens cannot be classified as members of the non-indigenous minorities living in Austria anymore, unlike most of the groups of non-Austrian citizens (with the exception of autochthonous minorities). This development needs to be born in mind when analysing the language situation in Austria, particularly when looking at the major groups of citizens of Ex-Yugoslav and Turkish origin.
Based on the strongly positive difference between the numbers of non-Austrian citizens and those who use other languages than German in informal contexts (Statistics Austria 2001: 76), for the purposes of this analysis, the group of non-indigenous minorities also contains the group of foreign-born Austrian citizens.
It is equally important to highlight the currently six officially recognised autochthonous ethnic groups of Austria, whose members are Austrian citizens with a different mother tongue than German. Recognition in law of the autochthonous ethnic groups refers to regionally limited areas of the federal provinces of Burgenland, Carinthia, Styria or Vienna. The six minority ethnic groups are:
1. The Croatian ethnic group in Burgenland. 29
2. The Slovenian ethnic group(s) in Carinthia and Styria.
3. The Hungarian ethnic group(s) in Burgenland and Vienna.
4. The Czech ethnic group in Vienna.
5. The Slovakian ethnic group in Vienna.
6. The Roma ethnic group in Burgenland.
With respect to these autochthonous minorities, it is important to underline that, in their case, the Census count is based on the informal use of languages. Table 2 shows the official numbers of Austrian citizens who belong to one of the above autochthonous groups, and who speak the related (officially) recognised minority language, and their repeated decline over the last few decades. This applies also to the ethnic groups’ traditional areas of residence (Baumgartner 1995).
1 Article 1 of EEC Council‘s Regulation No 1 determining the languages to be used by the EEC states: ‘ The official languages and the working languages of the institutions of the Community shall be Dutch, French, German and Italian ’ (EEC Council 1958: 385).
2 The further analysis shows that the language developments of a country are , inter alia, intrinsically linked to its economic developments and/or vice versa. From the author’s point of view, this interconnection can be, therefore, best described by the invented term ‘linguo-economic’.
3 The term ‘first language’ will be used interchangeably with the term ‘mother tongue’.
4 The ISCED levels of relevance to this analysis are: ISCED level 0 - Pre-primary education ISCED level 1 - Primary education or first stage of basic education ISCED level 2 - Lower secondary or second stage of basic education ISCED level 3 - (Upper) secondary education ISCED level 4 - Post-secondary non-tertiary education For the whole range of ISCED levels and more information consult UNESCO (1997).
5 The terms ‘Slovak’ and ‘Slovakian’ will be used interchangeably. The same applies also to the terms ‘Croat’/‘Croatian’ and ‘Slovene’/‘Slovenian’.
6 Source: Annexes to Presidency Conclusions. European Council Meeting in Laeken 14 and 15 December 2001. Annex I. Laeken Decleration on Future of the European Union. p. 2. Available at: http://www.statewatch.org/news/2001/dec/lak168827.pdf [Accessed 20 October 2009]
7 For more information on the Council of Europe and its distinction from the Council of the EU consult: http://www.coe.int/t/dg3/romatravellers/Documentation/CoEEU_en.asp [Accessed 29 January 2010]
8 Official Journal of the European Union C 207, 12/08/1995, pp. 1-5.
9 The topic ‘individual benefit derived from language learning’ is, inter alia, also given attention in the following EU documents:
- Council Resolution of 5 December 1994 on the quality and attractiveness of vocational education and training. Official Journal of the European Union C 374, 30/12/1994, pp. 1-4.
- Council Resolution of 16 December 1997 on the early teaching of European Union language. Official Journal of the European Union C 001, 03/01/1998, pp. 2-3.
10 This policy has been recommended by the Council of the EU since 1984. See above: Conclusions of the Council and the Ministers for Education, meeting within the Council of 4 June 1984.
11 Recommendation No. R (98) 6
12 A mid-term look at the Lisbon strategy showed the outcomes to be somewhat disappointing, particularly with regard to employment. In order to give the strategy some fresh momentum the Commission proposed a simplified coordination procedure and a focus on the National Action Plans (NAP). The emphasis of the re-launched Lisbon Strategy, approved in 2005, was no longer on targets, of which the only one to be retained was the figure of 3% of GDP to be devoted to research and development by 2010. There was a switch of emphasis in the Communication away from the medium and long term in favour of the urgent action needed in the Member States (Europa 2005).
13 Since the Lisbon Council, these conclusions have been regularly restated including by the Brussels European Councils (20-21 March 2003 and 22-23 March 2005) and in the re-launched Lisbon Strategy approved in 2005.
14 This concept was recognised by the Council of Europe already in 1969 (see above).
15 The Decision of the European Parliament and the Council of 17 July 2000 also included the languages Irish, Letzeburgesch, and other languages in line with those identified by the Member States for the purposes of implementing this Decision (European Parliament and the Council of the EU 2000: 3).
16 Council Resolution of 14 February 2002 on the promotion of linguistic diversity and language learning in the framework of the implementation of the objectives of the European Year of Languages 2001. Official Journal of the European Communities C 50/1, 23/02/2002.
17 Source: Standard Eurobarometer 55.1 (2001). Available at: http://ec.europa.eu/public_opinion/archives/eb/eb55/eb55_en.pdf [Accessed 19 October 2009]
18 Source: Special Eurobarometer N°243 (2006: 10).
19 Source: Special Eurobarometer N°243 (2006: 12).
20 Source: Special Eurobarometer 54.1 (2001). Available at: http://www.europa.eu.int/comm/public_opinion/archives/ebs/ebs_147_summ_en.pdf [Accessed 3 February 2010]
21 Source: Special Eurobarometer N°243 (2006: 21).
22 Source: Nations Online Project (2010).
23 Source: Statistics Austria (2009b: 9).
24 For more information on the Niederösterreichische Sprachenoffensive consult: http://sprachen.noe-lak.at/about.html (in German) [Accessed 9 February 2010]
25 For more information on the Julius-Kugy-form consult: http://www.projekte-interkulturell.at/projektliste_detail.aspx?PRO_ID=221&SHOWPRINT=1 (in German) [Accessed 24 March 2010]
26 All percentages of this Chapter have been rounded to one decimal place.
27 Source: Statistics Austria (2009a).
28 Table 1 is based on data given in Statistics Austria (2009a: 257).
29 Referred to as Croatians or Burgenland-Croatians.
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